Researchers aim to use mosquitos to bite back at malaria

ROCKVILLE, Maryland, Oct 28, 2007 (AFP) – A US scientist is leading an international team of researchers using an army of blood-sucking mosquitos to produce a potentially potent vaccine against malaria. Stephen Hoffman, 58, founded Sanaria Inc., a biotech firm solely dedicated to the production of a vaccine against malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that kills one million people a year, many of them African children.

Hoffman officially opened a manufacturing facility on Friday in the Washington suburb of Rockville, Maryland, where he said he aims to produce 75 to 100 million doses a year to vaccinate the 25 million infants born every in year in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The opening of this facility is an important step in the process to develop a whole-parasite malaria vaccine,” he said.

The scientist told reporters touring the facility he was optimistic that the vaccine could be tested in clinical trials by late 2008.

His goal, which has received US government support, was given a major boost in late 2006 when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated 29.3 million dollars through the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiativem, Hoffman said.

Hoffman knows the debilitating effects of malaria